Monday, 11 January 2010
Review: Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
Publisher: Chicken House
Released: January 4th, 2010
Grade rating: A+
While visiting her father in hospital, thirteen-year-old Isla meets Harry, the first boy to understand her and her love of the outdoors. But Harry is ill, and as his health fails, Isla is determined to help him in the only way she knows how. Together they watch a lone swan struggling to fly on the lake outside Harry's window. Isla believes that if she can help the damaged swan, somehow she can help Harry. And in doing so, she embarks upon a breathtakingly magical journey of her own.
Flyaway is only Lucy Christopher's second book, but already it feels like I've been reading her words for years. It's completely different to her debut novel, Stolen, but is just as good, if not better. This story is told by Isla, a teenage girl with a love for all types of birds. When her father is taken to hospital, it's there she meets a boy called Harry Brambling. Isla and Harry discover a swan out on the lake, and before they know it, everything changes.
Isla is an engaging narrator, with a warm personality and a selfless nature. She's supportive when her family needs her, she's encouraging to her sick father, and she's the anchor that ensures Harry keeps hold of the cheeky sparkle in his eyes. Like Isla's father, Harry's not well himself, though you'd never be able to tell from his high spirits and positive attitude. The friendship that forms is so lovely and innocent, and is a refreshing change from all the supercharged teenage hormones I've become so accustomed to.
Accompanying Isla and Harry throughout the book is a lone swan that has become detached from its flock. It might not be able to talk or interact like a human can, but it's just as important as the other characters. It has the ability to just be, and to guide and offer comfort when it's needed most. It's described so vividly that I almost believed it could be sat outside in my own tiny fish pond, bobbing for goldfish and tormenting the frogs. I never had any interest in swans before reading Flyaway, but now I want to experience their magic for myself.
There are a few short dream sequences throughout Isla's tale, and while they do fit into what's happening in the real world, I felt that a couple of them interrupted the flow of writing and unnecessarily complicated things. The last venture into Isla's imagination is so poignant and touching, and really made me think things were going to turn out differently than they did. I'm glad I was wrong!
Flyaway is chock-full of beautiful imagery, realistic plot threads and short chapters that will tug at your heartstrings. It's a story about family, friendship, and overcoming the many obstacles that life will inevitably present. I just wish it had a higher page count, because I could have carried on reading it for days.